Water fluoridation became personal for me in1993 when I was diagnosed with mouth cancer and my chosen medical professionals advised me to avoid fluorides. At issue were direct toxicity to my oral cavity, interference with my immune system and fluoride being a prime suspect as an “enabler” of the process that leads to cancer. I am not alone in my concerns about the risks involved with water fluoridation.

Hardy Limeback is a practicing dentist as well as associate professor and head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto, Ontario. He is world-renowned for his expertise and was Canada’s leading fluoride authority and promoter of water fluoridation until 1999 at which time he assembled his dental faculty and students. He recalls, “Speaking as the head of preventive dentistry, I told them that I had unintentionally misled my colleagues and my students. For the past 15 years, I had refused to study the toxicology information that is readily available to anyone. Poisoning our children was the furthest thing from my mind. The truth was a bitter pill to swallow. But swallow it I did.”

Swallowing is the issue with fluorides. Any benefits of fluoride occur topically — at the tooth’s surface — not systemically as was once thought. Limeback is especially concerned about infants’ exposure to fluoride and warns that powdered formula must never be reconstituted with fluoridated water.

Excessive intake of fluoride during tooth development results in dental fluorosis, a condition that the CDC said in 2005 was exhibited by one-third of U.S. children and adolescents aged 6 to 19. Almost 4 percent had moderate to severe fluorosis.

Bill Osmunson, a cosmetic dentist, often treats the white and brown tooth damage caused by fluorides. For 25 years he promoted water fluoridation, but his life was changed when, at the urging of his patients, he re-examined the issue. As he put it, “Looking at the current literature was like a knee in the gut.”

Photos taken by Limeback and others can be seen online. The December 2008/January 2009 issue of the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association discusses the difficulty of repairing severely fluorotic teeth.

There is more at stake here than developing teeth. The National Research Council’s 2006 report on fluorides stated that diabetics, kidney patients and seniors are “susceptible subpopulations” that are particularly vulnerable to harm from ingested fluorides. And what harm might that be? The Material Safety Data Sheet for a fluoride delivery states: “Intake of 6 mg or more/day may result in brittleness of bones, anemia, weakness, stiffness of joints and progressive changes in teeth and skeleton.”

Legal organizations are looking at mechanisms for redress against those who have failed to warn of the harmful effects of consuming fluoridated water.

In January, a formal letter of notice went out to the American Diabetes Association outlining the “upcoming tsunami of public outrage and ensuing lawsuits” toward those who have failed to warn of potential harm from fluoridated water.

Those making untrue and misleading statements in support of water fluoridation are starting to be held accountable.

An important voice came into the debate when Tennessee State Rep. Joey Hensley, M.D., sent a letter to all Tennessee water districts advising them to no longer add fluoride to drinking water.

It’s time for us to seriously re-examine why we are adding a toxic waste to Staunton’s drinking water and then calling it safe to drink.

Kenneth Case is a retired high school science teacher.